Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Isaiah 2: 10-12

10Enter the rock and hide in the dust
From the terror of the LORD and from the splendor of His majesty.
11 The proud look of man will be abased
And the loftiness of man will be humbled,
And the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
A Day of Reckoning Coming
 12 For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning
Against everyone who is proud and lofty
And against everyone who is lifted up,
That he may be abased.

Pride. The Bible does not say that it's the root of all evil. But, man.... It's not a good thing! That strutting peacock above has become a symbol for pride--so beautiful, yet so outward showy and self-important. A tour through Psalms and Proverbs will fill you with references to the evils of pride. For example:

"The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who watches his way preserves his life.
Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling.
It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly
Than to divide the spoil with the proud." 
--Proverbs 16: 17-19

Today's passage from Isaiah focuses on Judah's pride and the resulting "destruction" and "stumbling" to come. I've left the subhead from the NASB in place, though it might well have been placed beginning with verse 10, as the text focuses on a "day of reckoning" and, more specifically, what the prophets called "the Day of the Lord."

Judah's pride--its self-sufficiency in the face of God Almighty--was the cause of the Lord's consternation. The "proud look" and "loftiness" of man will "be abased" or "humbled." Verse 11 can also be more literally translated as the "eyes of the loftiness of men." We think of a loft being a place up high. Looking at the Hebrew, we get an expansion of that definition: "To be (causatively, make) lofty, especially inaccessible; by implication, safe, strong." [Strong's] The eyes of the nation were not on God but on surpassing God to the point of being inaccessible and utterly powerful. This could not, nor would ever, be and the outcome of their sinful "look" was not unknown.

"Pride will, one way or other, have a fall. Men’s haughtiness will be brought down, either by the grace of God convincing them of the evil of their pride, and clothing them with humility, or by the providence of God depriving them of all those things they were proud of and laying them low. Our Saviour often laid it down for a maxim that he who exalts himself shall be abased; he shall either abase himself in true repentance or God will abase him and pour contempt upon him."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

That "fall" would come in a "day of reckoning." And, no, it's not God saying, "I reckon I'd better do something about My wayward people." [Or is it?!] A reckoning can mean a settling of something, like an account, but it can also mean "an accounting for things done or received" or "an appraisal or judgment." [] Looking at some of the older English and foreign definitions of the root word, we see it means "ready, straightforward," and "to move in a straight line." Straightening out a wayward people was definitely part of God's plan, and, one can see how Isaiah's prophecy here might be referring to a more immediate day of reckoning through the captivity of the people to Babylon.

But, given some of the other details here in the passage, it is more likely that Isaiah is referring to the Day of Reckoning or the Day of the Lord. If you studied Obadiah, Joel, Amos or Hosea with me, then you know what this means. It's Judgment Day! It is the day that Revelation speaks of--a day of God's ultimate wrath--in which He will destroy His creation, saving those who confess and live out their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. That which is dross will be smelted away, once and forever. (Isaiah 1:25) 

Going back to verse 10, we read of the command to "enter the rock and hide in the dust." There are those who will try and escape this destruction by hiding, even though there will be no hiding or escape from "the terror of the Lord."

"Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;  and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb....'"
--Revelation 6: 15-16

We will read more about this Day in the weeks' verses ahead. Knowing that the Day has not yet arrived, we should be praising God for His grace and His mercy, for there are still those who will come to Him today, who can be reached for Him today, who can be saved from the pride that brings destruction right now. Look at the encouragement Paul gave to the Corinthians, and us, in this regard:
"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.... You are looking at things as they are outwardly.... For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding."
--II Corinthians 10: 5-7; 12
Let us not be without understanding, operating out of pride--measuring, comparing, commending ourselves. For it is not the outward appearance but what is in one's heart that matters to God. (I Samuel 16:7) As we enter Holy Week next week, may the words of this beloved hymn carry forth new encouragement:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride. 
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
--When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Isaac Watts, 1707)

A Day of Reckoning against.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Isaiah 2: 13-18

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).